Popular Subsidiaries Of The Walt Disney Company

Popular Subsidiaries Of The Walt Disney Company

For the people born in the 21st century, Disney has been the main part of our childhood, we grew up watching their cartoons and animated movies. Disney which is also known as the Walt Disney Company is an American conglomerate which is headquartered in Burbank, California. The company is a leader in the sectors of entertainment and one of the largest media companies because of its subsidiaries and acquisitions like ABC, ESPN, Pixar, 21st Century Fox, Lucas Films, Marvel, National Geographic, etc. The company is known to have over 210,000 people and generated total revenue of $65.39 Billion in 2020 alone.

The company was founded by the famed Disney brothers, Walt and Roy Disney in the year of 1923. The new CEO of the company is Bob Chapek. The company is popular for its International theme parks, an animation studio that has made iconic movies, numerous business franchises, top-notch media and entertainment under its belt. Disney’s business is divided among its different acquisitions and subsidiaries.

The four main parts are Disney’s media networks: Parks, Resorts, experiences and products; Studio and entertainment and direct to consumer and international. Walt Disney is usually given the credit of being one of the pioneers in film making.

The company is not only one of the best in the animation industry but also live-action film production and television. The company is also into publishing, consumer products, and international operations and is recently getting big in the sector of the direct-to-consumer with Over The Top/streaming services like Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+, and Hotstar.

It so far has 14 theme parks, many resort hotels, cruise lines across the world among which the most popular are the Disney theme parks and amusement parks. Disney created the iconic character Mickey Mouse (the first sound cartoon) in 1928 that is recognized by everyone around the world.

A Brief History of the Walt Disney Company
The Walt Disney Subsidiaries and Acquisitions
Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution
The Walt Disney Parks, Experiences and Products
The Walt Disney Studios
The Main Subsidiaries under Walt Disney studios

The Walt Disney Company was created by Walt and Roy Disney, they first opened the Disney Brother Cartoon Studio in Hollywood, California in October 1923. After that Walt Disney started drawing cartoons for many publications and became interested in animation during this time period. They then went on to produce short films like Laugh O Gram and Alice’s wonderland. In 1928 it came out with the Steamboat Willie, which introduced the first sound cartoon Mickey Mouse, today Mickey Mouse is one of the most recognized cartoons around the world.

The next hit by them was the famous Snow White and the seven Dwarfs in 1937 which was a chart buster. In the 1950s the company made its first live action film called Treasure Island, then made the animated movies of Cinderella and the series of Mickey Mouse Club which catapulted the company into the limelight.

Walt Disney passed away in 1966 and was survived by Roy Disney who continued the supervision of the company. By that time Disney had already opened many theme parks but its first international theme park was opened in 1982.

In 1980’s the company started its own channel (Disney Channel) on Cable TV. Michael D Eisner became its chairman in 1984 and helped the company grow to new heights. Since then the company continued making show stopping movies which was acclaimed by everyone and at the same time helped the animation industry grow.

It then diversified into other sectors like the Action film production, television and theme parks. The animation studio changed its name to the Walt Disney Production in 1986 so it could focus on its different sectors which were theater, radio, music, merchandising, publishing and media.

Net income of Walt Disney
Net income of Walt Disney

In the 1950’s it built many hotels, amusement/theme parks and started acquiring many media and entertainment properties in the 90s. In 2006, the company acquired Pixar which is known for making digital animated movies like Toy Story, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, etc. In 2009, Disney sold Miramax Studios in order to downsize the Touchstone Pictures. The same year it also brought Marvel Entertainment which is known for making many superhero franchises like Iron Man, Spiderman, Deadpool, etc. Disney also acquired Lucasfilm in 2012 which is known for the Star Wars franchise.

The company now owns the big names in the entertainment and media industries like ABC broadcast television network, ESPN, A+E Networks, Pixar, Marvel Studios, Lucas films, 20th FOX, etc. The company started with a couple of animators who made short children cartoon films, today is one of the most popular companies in the world. The company is trying to make it corporate because it wants to market to a larger audience by providing mature content. The company subsidiaries and acquisitions are divided under three main business sections which are:

  • Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution
  • The Walt Disney Parks, Experiences and Products
  • Walt Disney Studio

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This division is headed by Kareem Daniel and is mainly responsible for the distribution, operations, sales, advertising and promoting the other three sectors of Disney which are its Parks and products, Walt Disney Studios, Disney’s Entertainment Sector and Sports sector.

This division was formed in October 2020. This sector also manages the Disney’s direct to consumer business which includes its various streaming platforms. The main OTT/ streaming platforms of Disney are Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+ and Hotstar. This also manages other sectors of Disney international holding such as Star India and other television networks, Disney’s music group and the company’s media distribution.

Disney +

Disney plus is an OTT and subscription-based video on demand service that is owned and operated by Disney. It was made available in India through Hotstar in April 2020 and then rebranded in as Disney+Hotstar. This platform was initially made to distribute films and televisions shows that are made from its wide range of its entertainment companies under Disney which are the Walt Disney Studios, Walt Disney Television and subsidiaries Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic and more.

Disney plus was launched in November 2019 for US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and September 2020 for the European countries, November 2020 for Latin American countries. As of January 2021, the platform has over 94.9 million subscriptions. The cost of Disney+ in the US costs $6.99 per month and $69.99 per annum, while in India the Disney+ Hotstar VIP is Rs. 399 per year and Disney+ Hotstar Premium costs Rs. 299 per month/Rs 1,499 per year. Disney+ is now one of top ten OTT platform in the world.


Hulu is also one of most well know OTT platform/ subscription video on demand service that is owned by both The Walt Disney Company and Comcast’s NBC Universal according to equity. In 2010, Hulu became the first OTT platform to upgrade to plus that provided extra services like earlier access to episodes and programs from different partners.

As of December 2020, Hulu had over 16.6 million subscribers. It was only in 2019 that Hulu was brought by Disney as it then acquired the 21st Century giving it the 60% majority stake. The other stake holder of Hulu is comcast which made a deal with Disney to purchase 33% stake in the company by 2024. The cost of Hulu basic in the US is $5.99 per month, with the Premium costing $11.99 per month, however Hulu is not available in India.

Hulu Subscribers 2015 to 2020
Hulu Subscribers 2015 to 2020


ESPN plus is the OTT/subscription video streaming service that is the online version of the ESPN TV channel. ESPN+ is owned by Disney in partnership with the ESPN Inc. ESPN is also one of the most known OTT platforms in the US. Like Hulu and Disney plus, ESPN plus also uses the technology of the company’s subsidiary the BAMTech.

Unlike the TV version the ESPN+ covers sports such as the Golf, Cricket, Rugby, Soccer, Combat sports like top rank boxing, hockey league, other basketball leagues that are sometimes exclusive and not aired on TV.  As of November 2020, ESPN plus has over 10.3 million subscribers. The cost of ESPN+ in the US is $6 per month and $60 annual.

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The Disney Parks, Experiences and Products are one of the most important parts of the company. This sector mainly includes Walt Disney’s Theme parks/amusement parks, cruise lines, resorts and other consumer products. Josh D’Amaro is the head of this division. Some of the most popular holdings are the Walt Disney World, Disneyland resort, Tokyo Disney Resort, Disneyland Paris, Hongkong Disneyland Resort, Shanghai Disney Resort, Disney Vacation Club, Disney Cruise Line and Adventures of Disney.

The company uses its own and its subsidiary’s brands and franchise such as Disney studios, Marvel, LucasFilms, Pixar, ESPN, 20th FOX and the National Geographic and incorporates in its holding in order to create magical moments for its visitors. It makes global products in 100 categories such as figures, toys, jewellery, tech, etc that bring stories and characters to life.

Disney is also known to be one of the leading providers of family’s travel and leisure experiences with the help of 6 international resort destinations, 12 theme parks and 53 resorts.

Disney is also known for making high quality games on mobile and console platforms for all ages which are based on the character’s and stories it owns. The company’s publishing sector is the world largest publisher especially for the children books and magazines. It is also a leader in licensing as it is present in 68 countries and done in 45 languages. It also has a top-rated cruise line that is popular and other unique vacation experiences like vacation clubs and adventures by Disney.

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One of the main divisions of Disney’s business as it has many of its main acquisitions and subsidiaries under it. The Walt Disney Studio consists of big names in the film and entertainment industry besides Walt Disney Pictures and Walt Disney Animation Studios such as the Pixar, Marvel Studios, LucasFilms, 21th Century FOX, Blue Sky Studios and Searchlight Pictures. The studios were founded in 1923 and is one of the oldest film studios now headed by Alan Bergman.

Disney is known to have a industry record of about $13.2 billion at the global box office thanks to its subsidiaries. Six of the top ten highest grossing films worldwide are produced under Disney as they also have two of the highest grossing film franchises of all time.

Disney also has two further division which are the Disney general Entertainment Content and the ESPN and sports content. These both are integral part of the company and have companies like ABC signature and ABC news, Fox networks, National Geographic and ESPN under it.

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21st Century Fox

21st Century Fox is one of the biggest and popular media and entertainment company that was acquired by Disney in March of 2019 for $71 billion. Earlier know as 20th Century Fox the News corporation was under Robert Murdoch. The 20th Century studios was one of the best American film studios for more than 80 years.

The company was initially formed in 1935 with the merging of Fox Film Corporation and 20th Century Pictures. In 1985, the company became the 20th Century Fox because it was acquired by a news corporation then spilt again 2013.

It then changed its name to 21st century Fox in January of 2020, after the Disney acquisition. The company is headquartered in the Century City area of Los Angeles, California. When Disney brought the company its also got its franchises like its TV studios, The Fox networks, National Geographic, Hulu and international networks like Star. This acquisition was important for Disney as it helped the company cater to a larger audience by providing different content.   ‌

ABC Broadcast Network

This is one the most powerful media companies in the world that was acquired by Disney in July of 1995 for $19 billion dollars. The company was formed in 1985 after Capital Cities acquired ABC for $3.5 billion. It wasn’t until 1995, that Disney acquired the company bringing together the two leaders of media and entertainment together. After Disney acquired this company it also the control of many Tv channels, Radio stations, high equity in ESPN, History channel, A&E Network, etc.

Disney acquired abc for  $19 billion dollars
Disney acquired abc for $19 billion dollars

The company rebranded itself in 1996 as the ABC television group. It is now headquartered in Burbank California, while the headquarters of the news division is in New York City. ABC has over eight owned and operated main TV station and over 232 affiliated TV stations in the US alone.

When it comes to the ABC News sector it is also one the best news channels in the world. Few of the most famous shows of ABC news are ABC tonight with David Muir, Good Morning America, Primetime, 20/20, Sunday morning political affairs program, Nightline, etc.

Pixar Animation Studios

Everybody has watched Pixar movies like Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Wall E, Cars, Ratatouille etc. Pixar one of the most recognized and acclaimed animation studio which was acquired by Disney in January 2006 for $7.4 billion. Pixar was created by the iconic Steve Jobs (former CEO and founder of Apple) in 1986. The company was formed when apple first brought the animation film technology of LucasFilms. Because of Steve Jobs effort Pixar became one of the biggest animation film producers.

Steve jobs Bought Pixar in 1986.
Steve jobs Bought Pixar in 1986.

The company has its headquarters in Emeryville, California. Pixar has so far made 23 feature films and many short films with its most recent movie being the Soul in 2020. Pixar has earned over $14 billion at the worldwide box office un till 2019. 15 movies of Pixar like Toy Story, Finding Dory, Incredibles 2, Toy Story 4 are among the highest grossing animated movies of all time. The company has also awarded with 20 academy awards and 9 Golden Globe Awards including 11 Grammy’s and many other awards.

Marvel Entertainment

Marvel Movies like Spiderman, Ironman, Captain America, Thor, Civil War, Infinity War, have been a part of our life growing up. Marvel is an entertainment giant and one of the most globally loved film and television studio that was acquired by Disney in 2009 for $4 billion.

The marvel studios are known for its movies that are based on superheroes of the marvel cinematic universe that characters taken from the original marvel comics. The company initially went through many ups and downs of many name changes, different ownership, bankruptcy, before becoming a household name.

Marvel’s headquarters are based in New York. The company has over 5000 characters such as Spider Man, Iron Man, X men characters, Captain America, Fantastic Four characters, and many more in the marvel cinematic universe. The marvel Studios have till now produced 23 movies based on different superheroes and its most recent one being its first television series called WandaVision in 2021. There are many marvel movies that have crossed the $1 billion box office mark. A fun fact about Marvel is, In the early 1990s, Michael Jackson tried to purchase Marvel Comics, because he wanted to produce Spiderman to play as Peter parker.

Michael Jackson tried to purchase Marvel comics
Michael Jackson tried to purchase Marvel comics

LucasFilms Ltd

LucasFilms is also one the most famous Television and Film production company that was acquired by Disney in October 2012 for $4.1 billion. Lucas Film was first created in 1971 by the filmmaker George Lucas. LucasFilms has its headquarters in San Francisco, California. The studio is known for its popular and blockbuster franchises of Star Wars and Indiana Jones.

LucasFilm Logo
LucasFilm Logo

The company has been credited for its development in the sectors of special effects, sound and computer animation. Disney acquired this company to cater to the need to a wider consumer base and to get an access to highest grossing franchises. Disney also has theme parks and resorts that are based on Star Wars.

Who was the founder of Disney and When was it founded?

The company was founded by the famed Disney brothers, Walt and Roy Disney in the year of 1923.

What are the main sections of Disney’s business?

Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution, The Walt Disney Parks, Experiences and Products and Walt Disney Studios are the main sections of Disney’s business.

What are the top five subsidiaries of Walt Disney?

LucasFilms Ltd, Marvel Entertainment, Pixar Animation Studios, ABC Broadcast Network and 21st Century Fox are the top five subsidiaries of Walt Disney.

What are the Three main OTT/subscription video streaming service of Disney?

Disney+, ESPN+, Hulu are the Three main OTT/subscription video streaming service of Disney.


Disney is one of the biggest entertainments and media conglomerates in the world. This is because the company has made strategic decisions in acquiring some of the biggest companies as its Subsidiaries. No matter which industry Disney has excelled at putting out its best work. The company is so successful because it managed to change the lives of people around the world. May it be movies or its amusement parks Disney has not failed in making peoples dreams into reality.


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